Author Topic: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)  (Read 38638 times)

Thesauradon

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Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« on: April 11, 2013, 01:40:23 AM »
Hello Forum members,
I am a long-time lurker looking for your creativity. Recently, a player in my D&D campaign (4th ed. Eberron) informed me that he felt my games were not “scary” when compared to a Wild Talents campaign he also plays. This may be his last mistake.

For the next session, I have made an homage to horrible monsters Ross and Caleb: we’ll be playing Dread (the Jenga-tower horror RPG) while the party explores a Know-Evil inspired “scare-by-numbers” map.
The party is raiding a Cult Compound dedicated to Khyber, who I’m running as Eberron’s Draconic Elder-Thing. This sect of the cult specializes in Summoning/Mutation.

I need your suggestions for weird/evil/unnerving things to fill the map with. If you have played Dread before, mechanics to go with said things would be greatly appreciated.

Things I have so far (suggestions and criticism welcomed)
1: A wooden coffin, standing upright. Inside is a dead Warforged with human hands and feet.
2: Thick white ropes hang from the ceiling. They are actually the tentacles of a Gelatinous Cube-Jellyfish. If pulled on, it will pounce.
Mechanics: Players must make a pull to escape the Jellycube. The Jellycube will block the door the player leaves through, requiring another pull to backtrack through the room.
3: A room filled with discarded, open treasure chests. If searched, one turns out to be a sleeping mimic. My players have never met a mimic.
4: A dark room, filled with potted plants. When entered, all players’ light sources are extinguished. With an active light source in the room, the potted plants open to reveal Venus Fly Trap teeth around a large single eye, and will track the player around the room.
Mechanics: Moving through the room in the dark requires two pulls from the Jenga tower. The player is told that if they relight their source, it will only require one pull.
5: Six obsidian pillars in a hexagon. If a player looks into any of the pillars, they find themselves stuck in the center of the room, while a shade forms from their reflection and leaves.
Mechanics: The player must make a pull to break free from the center of the room, then either make a second pull or lose their next turn to leave the room with their eyes closed. If the player chooses to lose their next turn, the shade will take actions/communicate with other players during their turns. The shade disappears when the player leaves the room.

So please, present your most ghoulish fantasy thoughts!

A side note on my players’ psychologies: One is absolutely terrified of jump scares and the atmosphere of horror films, one finds body horror totally unsettling, and one is power gamer- things that threaten his character create a metagaming-fueled fear.

clockworkjoe

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2013, 02:25:15 AM »
massive chamber (undeground valley/rift) filled with THOUSANDS of monsters/undead/nasty things, walking on a sea of corpses. There's a giant monster too - a big ass thing too scary to fight. The PCs quickly realize they can become invisible to the creatures if they cover themselves in the white worms covering the corpses. The worms of course start to slowly eat and burrow inside the PCs - skill challenge to see how quickly they get across - the more failures they get the more healing surges they lose and status conditions they wrack up. 

Setherick

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2013, 08:55:32 AM »
massive chamber (undeground valley/rift) filled with THOUSANDS of monsters/undead/nasty things, walking on a sea of corpses. There's a giant monster too - a big ass thing too scary to fight. The PCs quickly realize they can become invisible to the creatures if they cover themselves in the white worms covering the corpses. The worms of course start to slowly eat and burrow inside the PCs - skill challenge to see how quickly they get across - the more failures they get the more healing surges they lose and status conditions they wrack up.

That's certainly revolting.

Quote
3: A room filled with discarded, open treasure chests. If searched, one turns out to be a sleeping mimic. My players have never met a mimic.

I would like this better if it was a room filled with closed treasure chests all of which were mimics except one. The one non-mimic chest would have worthless items in it and a scroll explaining what mimics are.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2013, 08:57:41 AM by Setherick »
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Tadanori Oyama

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2013, 11:47:09 AM »
Quote
The one non-mimic chest would have worthless items in it and a scroll explaining what mimics are.

That would just be rather cruel. For horror the scroll could explain that a mimic's attack carries a curse. The curse has no effect upon living beings but objects slowly begin to become self aware and eventually turn upon their owner. However, the curse does not always take hold: there is a fifty-fifty chance of it taking root.

Ideally do this at a time when the PCs can't easily leave the dungeon. They'll have to spend the rest of the delve waiting for their weapons and armor to turn against them; or they'll try to go without their cool stuff. Either way, they'll be more inclinded towards fear.

Tim

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2013, 08:12:38 PM »
massive chamber (undeground valley/rift) filled with THOUSANDS of monsters/undead/nasty things, walking on a sea of corpses. There's a giant monster too - a big ass thing too scary to fight.

I do like the image of a corpse sea with monsters rising out of the depths. Maybe the PCs have to create a raft of animated corpses to take them across the sea and fight off the various creature that 'live' in this strange ecosystem.

Thesauradon

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2013, 03:56:39 PM »
massive chamber (undeground valley/rift) filled with THOUSANDS of monsters/undead/nasty things, walking on a sea of corpses. There's a giant monster too - a big ass thing too scary to fight. The PCs quickly realize they can become invisible to the creatures if they cover themselves in the white worms covering the corpses. The worms of course start to slowly eat and burrow inside the PCs - skill challenge to see how quickly they get across - the more failures they get the more healing surges they lose and status conditions they wrack up. 

Terrifying. If the psionic player succeeds a check to investigate it, I'll say that the room is a psychic attack created by the worms- the players see a person running across the room covered in them- to get the players to cover themselves. Any other players get no explanation.


I would like this better if it was a room filled with closed treasure chests all of which were mimics except one. The one non-mimic chest would have worthless items in it and a scroll explaining what mimics are.


That would just be rather cruel. For horror the scroll could explain that a mimic's attack carries a curse. The curse has no effect upon living beings but objects slowly begin to become self aware and eventually turn upon their owner. However, the curse does not always take hold: there is a fifty-fifty chance of it taking root.

Ideally do this at a time when the PCs can't easily leave the dungeon. They'll have to spend the rest of the delve waiting for their weapons and armor to turn against them; or they'll try to go without their cool stuff. Either way, they'll be more inclinded towards fear.

Awesome! The flavor text now reads:
Inside the chest on the table are a simple bronze axe, a pair of leather boots, a serrated ceremonial dagger, and a note. The note reads:
“This is the ‘quarantine’ chest. The mimic’s bite appears to be cursed: items affected become sentient. It bit my boots, and my boots later threw me into the bone pit. Not all items are affected, there seems to be a fifty-fifty chance. If you want to be safe, put the items they bit in the chest.”

Thank you All! I'll keep you posted when I run the game.

Teapot

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 07:07:29 AM »
Living disintegrate spell = disassembler swarm.

Living suggestion/charm/dominate = basilisk hack.

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 06:54:19 PM »
Watch the underrated movie Cube (but not its horrific sequels).  Since the setup is a Cult compound why not have them storm in ready to kill and then have them chasing down a cult member into a new area.  The PCs follow as they do, the door shut behind them.  Now they are stuck with a cultist in a place designed to kill them at every pass. 

Another set of movies to steal from would be the Saw franchise.  Nobody watched Saw after the 4th one so feel free to rip them off.

A good story to read to get ideas would be "I have No Mouth and Yet I must Scream."

For the jump scare player try a room that the other PCs disappear in.  Poof they are gone.  All alone with the quiet.  Alone. Then slowly have them hear something rustling in the distance.  The way out is gone.  A scratching sound like that of nails on a chalkboard slowly from the distance.  Then the light source fails. More sounds.  The player feels something brush past in the darkness.  The scraping is closer.  Right next to them.  Then through the darkness they see two small pinpoints of darkness that seems to somehow be darker than the rest.  Two vacuous holes.  Behind the PC crying can be heard.

     Thus a fight in the dark.  Someone crying-choose an NPC that the character knows.  All without the power gamer to bail them out.  The stuff that nightmares fear in their dreams.

For the power gamer simply have them encounter someone who they cannot kill that mocks them as they try.  Have them woefully outmatched.  Bring them to their knees.  Have an arm ripped off.  Sever an artery. 

If the player is a whiner about the rules let them notice that they are itchy.  When they investigate have them find a rash that has oozing sores.  Let them spread.  Weaken the power gamer to a level below their compatriots.  Make them taste mortality as their muscles decay.  Their armor is crushing them.  Their sword is too heavy.  Their spells are draining away.  They came in a hero and now fear that they will leave an invalid.  Time is of the essence.

Teuthic

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Re: Help Scare My Players! (D&D Horror Ideas)
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2013, 10:31:50 AM »
The characters have to break up at one point, each into separate rooms. Take each one into a private area and tell them the door behind them closes. You have to make sure none of the players are in contact. Tell them they've entered a room with a single lever, and a locked door in front of them. Take your time, go into detail about how there's nothing else. Let them try to get out of the room, but nothing will happen until they pull the lever. And even then, nothing will happen. Let them stew. When the final player you talk to pulls the lever, all of the doors they did not enter from will

They all exit into the same room, which is similarly bare, except for a pedestal in the center ; a note on the pedestal says, "one of you has been replaced." If your psionic player can read minds or communicate telepathically, pick one player at random; the psionic player is incapable of reading his mind or communicating telepathically with him. If not, have some magic item that allows for mind-reading. The same thing will happen to one random player, except anyone who uses the item won't be able to read that person's mind.